Monday, January 16, 2006

MINI to Monte Carlo is off

What happens when one person wants to pay tribute to a friend, help a cause and remember a legendary event in sport? MINI to Monto Carlo 2005, which took to the streets of Ireland today.

Irish rally driver, Eamon Harvey, lost his battle with cancer two years ago this month. His friend, Brian McDaid, has been thinking of a way to honor his memory almost ever since. When the Donegal Hospice, the facility that had cared for Eamon at the end, had to raise much needed funds this year, Brian decided to do something for them. What a 'something' it is!

When Brian put his ideas into action, he unleashed a tidal wave of support in County Donegal. Brian approached the MINI dealer in town with his idea of driving 5,000km from Letterkenny, his hometown and the location of the hospice, to Monte Carlo. Not only would this be a fundraiser, but also a tie to rally, which was such a part of Eamon's life. Why the MINI? In the 1960s, rally driver Paddy Hopkirk drove the MINI to victory at the Monte Carlo Rally. This is why Brian wanted a MINI for this sentimental journey, which includes a stop at the 2005 Monte Carlo Rally, of course. The answer from the MINI owner was swift and Brian was off to raise the much needed funds.

Since getting the vehicle he'd take, the support has been overwhelming, most of which did not happen online. Sure, there is a website, but most people learned of this journey "the old fashioned way", through the multiple newspapers in town that have covered the fundraising, seeing the MINI buzzing around this last month and word of mouth on the streets of Letterkenny and the surrounding towns.

Brian's had support through donations of tires, fuel and hotel accommodations. He's taking all of these individuals and companies (and many, many more) on the road with him through signage on the sides and the checkered top of the car.

The only thing Brian was missing was a navigator for the round trip. In some ways that was the easiest piece of the puzzle. His brother, Neil McDaid, jumped at the chance to navigate (and do a bit of driving, of course!) on the journey. Neil gathered support in Boston, where he currently resides, before flying home to Ireland to join his brother.

Brian and Neil began their journey this evening driving through Ireland and taking a ferry to Scotland, driving through England and then across to France where their first stop will be Paris. They plan to update their journey on the website through words and photos, if you care to follow along the next week and a half. I'm sure it won't be a boring trip and you never know who they will meet along the way.

Although final calculations are not in, Brian McDaid's wish to raise awareness for the Donegal Hospice in memory of his dear friend may just have exceeded his original expectations through the generosity of the people touched by the story and goal for such a worthy cause. It's amazing what one person can do when he (or she!) puts his mind and heart into a project.

Just a tidbit for today. Thanks for stopping by.


Tim Jackson- Masi Guy said...

Inspiration takes many shapes and forms.

Thanks for sharing this story with those of us who wouldn't have otherwise found it.

Damien said...

Great to see you covering this story too. Brian's done phenomenal work here in Donegal, most notably in Letterkenny, ensuring that this journey gets the coverage it deserves.

As you've said, he's neaarly done more to raise awareness of the Hospice than money, and that's much more important. The trip will raise a huge amount of money, but it's on-going legacy will be one of huge benefit to the Donegal Hospice.

Here in Letterkenny we're very proud of all that Brian and his supporters have achieved in such a short time.

Donna Tocci said...

Mayor Blake - thank you for your comments and for all that you have done to help the Mini to Monte Carlo project. As Tim mentions, this is an inspirational story in many ways. Watching the support in your town alone has been heartwarming.
On a side note, I hope you enjoyed your trip to New England a few weeks ago!
Tim - as always, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. This is a special story.

Tim Jackson- Masi Guy said...

Mr. Mayor,

I can't speak for Donna, but I am personally astounded that you posted this comment. Your example here should be spread around the world (as it is actually). Letterkenny is lucky to have an interactive Mayor like yourself.

This is an amazing story and Letterkenny sounds like an incredible town. If ever I finally get to Ireland (my wife is Boston Irish and we dream of "going home"), we will definitely look to visit Letterkenny.